ROSEAU, Dominica, March 11, 2010 - Today I had the opportunity to meet with the heads of government of CARICOM countries.
As the world looks to 2010 for the grip of the global economic crisis to lessen and recovery to take firmer hold, it is important to realize that there are still dangers to economic growth.
CARICOM has been vulnerable to the global crisis. Small island states also face unique challenges, in terms of economic growth, trade, climate change, water and natural disasters. The WBG is committed to partnering with CARICOM to help countries build sustainable and inclusive growth.
At today’s meeting we discussed a number of the key issues facing the region: the impact of the economic crisis, climate change, debt, and financial jurisdiction issues. I very much appreciated our useful discussions and the practical problem solving approach of CARICOM leaders. I learned important insights from the leaders' exchange.
We also had the opportunity to discuss the tragic earthquake in Haiti and the way forward. I met with President Rene Preval in Washington on Tuesday to discuss how the WBG can best support Haiti in the coming months. The World Bank has provided an additional $100 million in grants in response to the earthquake, while our private sector arm, the IFC has also made an additional $35 million investment to help boost jobs. The WBG also joined other donors in 2009 granting Haiti $1.2 billion in debt relief through the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries initiative and the Multilateral Debt Relief Initiative.
In our exchange today on debt, we explored ways in which the World Bank can work to help countries identify options and customize a framework for debt sustainability and economic growth.
CARICOM is particularly active on climate change, and the world is increasingly recognizing the needs of the small island states. The World Bank can help CARICOM with increasing its resilience to climate change, innovative financing, and low carbon growth strategies that include a focus on reducing the cost—and increasing the efficiency-- of energy in the region.
The Bank's private sector arm, the International Finance Corporation, is exploring opportunities to support renewable options, such as geothermal, hydro, wind and solar, along with an energy efficiency program.
With regards to financial jurisdictions, we addressed the range of issues the region faces in complying with international standards under the OECD and G-20. The WBG will continue to support countries with advice and assistance to put the necessary legal frameworks and treaties in place. While it is in the region's interest to complete these steps as quickly as possible, we recognize their special circumstances and are pleased to work with countries as needed on the implementation path.
Finally, I would like to thank our host Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerritt and the people of Dominica for their gracious hospitality and Edwin W. Carrington, Secretary General, CARICOM, and extend my best wishes for success for the remainder of the meetings.